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PREFACE

With the rate of poaching and habitat loss, gorillas in the region may disappear from most of their present range in less than 10–15 years from now.

The fate of the great apes is closely tied to ours as they inhabit some of the last remaining tropical rainforests – ecosystems that not only assist in supplying water, food and medicine but also play a global role in carbon sequestration and thus combating climate change.

This report, based on evidence submitted to the UN Security Council, field investigations, interviews and scientific data in- dicates that the gorillas in the Greater Congo Basin are at even greater risk than expected less than a decade ago.

Illegal mining, logging, charcoal and a rise in the bushmeat trade are intensifying pressure on great apes including goril- las. In 2002, UNEP assessed that 10% of gorilla habitat would remain by 2032, but this now appears to be too optimistic given the current trends.

With the rate of poaching and habitat loss, gorillas in the region may disappear from most of their present range in less than 10–15 years from now.

The scale of the extraction of minerals from gorilla habitat in DRC, largely orchestrated by militias, and the smuggling of natural resources from the wider Congo Basin to Asia and Eu- rope may represent several hundred million dollars annually in terms of illegal income.

Tragically 190 park rangers have been killed in one park alone while defending gorillas and their habitat.

Not all the news is bad: New protected areas have been cre- ated, international cross boundary collaboration on environ- mental crime and improved management of some protected areas in the region are scoring some successes: The critically

endangered mountain gorillas in the Virungas are on the rise again.

In order to widen these successes, improve human security and secure the future of the gorilla there is an urgent need to further strengthen this collaboration, including with and be- tween countries and companies who are recipients of these natural resources.

UNEP therefore welcomes the evolving, cross-boundary collab- oration between INTERPOL and the UN including the UNEP- linked Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species: Welcomes too the strengthened relationship between UNEP and UN peacekeeping operations in the region.

Securing the necessary funds to support law enforcement and trans-boundary collaboration on environmental crime is a re- sponsibility for all countries in the Greater Congo basin and beyond including in Asia, Europe and North America.

The opportunities are many: Tackling poverty by minimizing the theft of natural resources and maintaining the multi-billion ecosystem services of the tropical forests while reversing loss of economically and culturally-important wildlife in this, the UN International Year of Biodiversity.

Achim Steiner UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director

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